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Parliamentary committees approve cannabis law, Hizbullah cautious

27-2-2020

After some hesitation, the joint parliamentary committees yesterday ratified the draft bill for the legalization of cannabis for medical use and referred it to the General Assembly for enactment. Recalling, that the said law has been approved unanimously by the parliamentary blocs, without Hizbullah-led Al Wafa lil Moqawama bloc. The latter has withdrawn following an intervention by the bloc’s MP Hussein Haj Hassan who voiced reservation on the legislation. Haj Hassan addressed the economic feasibility of the draft, revealing that he has not received clear answers from the concerned sub-committee about the projected acreage to be cultivated and the size of produce, as well as the cost and sales of production, with focus on the anticipated proceeds Lebanon will get from this agriculture. Haj Hassan maintained that the above proposal was not supported with any study on its viability. At the end of the session, the head of the committee, Elie Ferzli, explained that according to the McKinsey study, the project boasts an extensive economic potential and will keep in check illegal activities and violations of this agriculture. In its analysis of the news, Al Akhbar mentioned that legalizing cannabis was based on a recommendation by McKinsey which accentuated the profits accrued by this cultivation to back up the state budget. As such, Al Akhbar wrote, a parliamentary sub-committee was formed in October 2018 to study the proposal which was recently finalized after certain adjustments. These included notably: restricting the establishment of another Regie, and requesting the formation of a regulatory body for the cultivation of cannabis. The latter will work under the direction of the presidency of the council of ministers and will be responsible for the issuance of permits, surveillance, the import of seedlings, building of cannabis nurseries, planting and harvesting, processing, export, transport and distribution. (An Nahar, Al Akhbar, Al Diyar, February 27, 2020)

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